The new school sculpture embedded in the front lawn outside Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Sciences is already tilting at an angle similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or a space ship that has crash landed.
In fact, the slanted metal frame is completely intentional said Ohio-based creator Kate Demske.
“I built it at the same angle you would hold a real Kaleidoscope,” Demske said.
More than 250 students and staff members bundled up on Oct. 27 to attend the official unveiling of the Kaleidoscope Art Sculpture. The rigid shards of stained glass cemented in the ceiling of the installation glinted in the late-autumn sun.
Principal Robin Dahlman quieted the huddle of buzzing students by reminding them of their “active listening skills.” She said it had taken hard work and persistence from parents, staff and students to make sure the school was able to receive the artwork that would capture the essence of the school.
Parent Heather Floyd initiated the push toward getting a piece to represent the school two years ago.
“Parents and teachers thought it was important we had art that captures our identity,” Floyd said.
After raising $20,000 for a design that was undecided at that point, the school put out a nation-wide proposal request asking for ideas that would be visible to the public and reflected the school’s mission, Floyd said. The art committee then reviewed submissions and presented the finalists for students and staff to vote on, she said.
Demske said her piece tied in the school’s focus on the arts and sciences. The roof, which included cutouts of Alaska’s wildlife, and rows of colored glass are formed within the equation of the golden ratio. She also sent a letter to the students asking for personal items to be placed in the walls of the sculpture.
Responses included a bone, moose hair, toy cars, plastic dolls, a starfish skeleton and personal poetry, now set in concrete on the inside of the hollow frame. The rest of the materials came from suppliers in Cincinnati, Demske said.
“I wanted the kids to be a part of it,” Demske said. “I wanted it to be interactive. I had to think about what it would be like inside of a rainbow. What it would be like to be inside of a jeweled space?”
Dahlman asked the students to consider how the piece ties into their experiences in and outside of the classroom, while walking through it for the first time. She said to consider the different environments and habitats in their community.
It was an amazing process, Dahlman said. The school’s community spent a year raising the funds for the project and was able to get clearance from the City of Kenai and the Kenai Peninsula Borough, she said. Parents, businesses, students and staff donated the time and free labor to make it happen, she said.
Fifth-grader Logan Satahtite said she was happy pieces of Alaska were included in the final product. She thought the angle and rainbow colors were a very interesting aspect of the piece. Her classmate Dillon Hanson said the installation had “pizzazz” and represents the school.
“We hope it becomes a legendary piece that lives on in our school,” Dahlman said.
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